Conference Minister Offers Guidelines for Reopening Church Facilities
May 27, 2020
Now that the State of Hawai'i is at the point of a soft reopening, please be aware that most county ordinances include language about following state guidelines and recommendations of your "religious organizations," that is, of the Conference. Here are key points to keep in mind:
Call your County Mayor's Office to hear from them just what they are allowing in terms of in-person worship, type of worship (drive-in, outside, sanctuary), and the total number of people allowed. You may reach your county government offices at these numbers:
Hawai'i County Mayor's Office: East Hawai'i: 808.961.8211; West Hawai'i: 808.323.4444
Maui County Mayor's Office: 808.270.7855
Kaua'i County Mayor's Office: 808.241.4900
Honolulu City and County Mayor's Office: 808.768.4141
The Hawai'i Conference recommendations remain the same and can be found HERE:
Forgo public worship until after June 1, 2020.
Have a COVID-19 Facility Reopening Plan in place and communicate it to your congregation.
The ethical underpinning of reopening plans should be respect for the well-being of others.
Ensure you can sustain hygiene benchmarks for your facility.
Reopen facilities within the parameters of State and County ordinances.
Be prepared for a period of opening and closing facilities as might be needed to address continuing threats from the novel coronavirus.
Continue building your virtual presence.
We are striving toward the same goal – minimum risk when we return to fully open facilities. However, this return will not be a straight line for us. We are in a labyrinth in which we move forward and then find ourselves doubling back for a bit. Our journey to the new normal will take time, longer than we think we can endure. We will get there together because we are in the hands of God. And because we are in the hands of God, when we get there we will be changed.
David K. Popham, Conference Minister
Conference Minster Shares Recommendations for Reopening Churches
May 13, 2020
Loving our neighbors is an inherent call of the Christian faith. HCUCC member congregations are covenanted to share God's aloha in all circumstances as widely as we can. To enhance our aloha in the time of COVID-19, the HCUCC office understands that those scientists, medical personnel, and crisis managers working for government entities have specialized training and are more informed than the general population on how to manage this crisis. Therefore, the HCUCC office suggests full compliance with all federal, state, and county laws and ordinances in regards to the novel coronavirus and the health of your church.
Respect for one another's well-being forms our ethical compass. At the heart of respect is our ability to take personal kuleana and responsibility to keep each other safe and from harm. It is our place as kahu and congregational leaders to guide our congregants into respectful and loving behavior to one another during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HCUCC office recommends congregations plan for a phased reopening of facilities in order to test plans and to ensure protocols are adequate and manageable for larger gatherings. To read the full document on recommendations that was emailed to all churches, clergy and lay leaders, click HERE.
Reflection from Conference Minister on "Magical Thinking"
May 6, 2020
When a crisis occurs, it is easy for people to blur the line between magical thinking and faithful responses. Recently I was on the writer Alice Mills' blog, Poema Chronicles (poemachronicles.com). In the article, "Magical Thinking versus a Firm Faith," Alice explores the difference between magical thinking and faith. What follows is a mixture of her thoughts and my own. Direct quotes from Alice Mills appear in quotation marks.
Magical thinking uses God as a talisman and flattens our relationship to the Divine to one purpose – what God can do for me.
Magical thinking lacks logic.
"Magical thinking denies personal responsibility; faith requires it."
Magical thinking is less taxing while faithful response requires effort.
Several churches in the Hawai'i Conference 'ohana are commemorating significant anniversaries this year:
Iao UCC in Wailuku, Maui, celebrated 125 years with the theme, "Reflecting Our Past That Leads to Our Future."
Kawaiaha'o Church in Honolulu commemorated their bicentennial anniversary with a special online worship service on April 26. The church also premiered a documentary, A Witness to Aloha, that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the church and the early Christian missions in Hawai'i. View the documentary HERE.
Mokuaikaua Church in Kailua-Kona on Hawai'i Island commemorated their bicentennial anniversary in April.
Waimea UCC on Kaua'i is also commemorating their bicentennial anniversary and will show a special video online this Sunday, May 3.
Congratulations to these churches and we wish you many more years of faithful ministry in our midst!
Reflection from Conference Minister "Patience"
April 22, 2020
The question on many minds is, "When can we reopen our facilities?" We are missing the intimacy of our communities: the ability to hug and to share what's happened in our lives between Sundays. It is hard to be distant from what, in other times of anxiety and concerns, proved to be our anchor in the storm.
At this time we need to develop patience. We must resist the temptation to open our sanctuaries prematurely. Such opening has the potential to place many lives in danger of catching a highly contagious virus with lethal consequences. If we allow it, impatience will turn our concerns for others into a feeling of inconvenience and spur us to rash actions.
With aloha for the well-being of our islands we can patiently wait and lean upon the wisdom of our governor and mayors to help us remain safe and healthy. We will be all right for we are in God's hands. And because we are in God's hands we will be changed more fully into Christ-likeness in love.
David K. Popham, Conference Minister
Join in Ringing Bells to Celebrate Kawaiaha'o Church's 200th Anniversary
April 22, 2020
Thursday, April 23, is the bicentennial anniversary of the founding of Kawaiaha'o Church in Honolulu. Kawaiaha'o Church invites all churches to join in the celebration by ringing their bells on April 23 at 9 a.m. We congratulate and celebrate with Kawaiaha'o Church on this momentous occasion!
PAAM Sunday is April 26
April 22, 2020
The last Sunday in April has been designated as Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries (PAAM) Sunday within the UCC. Ewa Community Church is hosting a joint virtual worship service with Hawai'i PAAM on Sunday, April 26th. Access to the virtual worship service is via the Hawai'i PAAM website. Various church leaders and congregations are participating. Also, there is a suggested litany that churches may use in part or as a whole in their own services this coming Sunday.
Conference Minister Reflects on Compassion Fatigue
April 15, 2020
During a recent Conference-wide Zoom meeting, David Popham, Conference Minister, talked about the issue of compassion fatigue.
Compassion Fatigue occurs during a time of intense prolonged crisis in which the "caregiver" does not have enough time and resources to recharge their ability to be compassionate toward others. HERE, in a snap shot, are items to be aware of around this issue.
Easter Message from David Popham
April 15, 2020
David Popham, Conference Minister, delivered an Easter message online. The video can be viewed through YouTube or Facebook where sharing is easy with just a few clicks!
Continue in the Season of Easter
April 15, 2020
As churches have been going online for worship, many Easter services have been recorded and published, giving us the opportunity to tune in to other Easter services online. Get acquainted with other churches and really live into the season of Easter! Check out our Facebook page where we’ve shared a number of online services from our churches. To share your online Easter service, tag us on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 8, 2020
Embrace your caring and creative side. Show us your hearts!
Our Conference Minister invites us to enact God's care for us with this mini project of making hearts and putting them up as a visible and tangible sign of aloha in the midst of our sheltering-in-place.
If you'd like to participate, please share it with the wider Conference 'ohana by taking a picture and sending it to email@example.com (with your name and church), OR post it on social media and tag us! @ucc.hawaii
At its meeting on April 2, the HCUCC Conference Council voted to postpone the 'Aha Pae'āina until October 7 – 10, 2020, also to be held at Kawaiaha'o Church. The Council will review possible continuing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic sixty days prior to the October date to determine the wisdom of a physical meeting in the Fall.
For those who have already registered, please be in touch with Lori Yamashiro (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the Conference staff.
The health and safety of our church family are paramount to the Council. Stay safe and continue washing your hands.
Read Reflection from Conference Minister David Popham
April 1, 2020
This week's reflection comes from Rev. Jeffery Dodson, whom I have known since he was a youth counselor at the camps I once oversaw. His mother, Linda Norrington, is a member of Waiola Church and resides on Maui. I share these thoughts with his permission – David.
Easter does not come in a timely fashion. It is not an event to time our lives by, and expect that the healing of our communities and health of our nation will be stabilized by April 12. Easter comes unexpectedly, inconveniently, out of time or schedule. It is precisely the chaotic arrival of Easter that reveals its true meaning: grace in the midst of anger and hate, forgiveness in the course of judgment, love interrupting apathy, and Life Triumphant from the grave. We are so busy worrying about our Chronos (the world's timing) being messed up, that we are willing to trade God's Kairos (Divine timing) to fix our broken rhythms and patterns.
One thing I have learned in my time as a pastor is that Easter will happen, whether we are ready for it or not. Easter will happen outside of our preparedness or full health. Perhaps this is our invitation to trust not in our economy, but in God's economy, in God's Easter, coming in the middle of dis-ease and distress to bring us not just hope, but justice for the world in which we live and the neighbors we are called to love. The false Easter is the disaster proposed out of Washington D.C. to return to our rhythm, our economy, our Chronos by April 12. The true Easter is found in the three days in the tomb, the unexpected stone rolled away, the unknown gardener talking to an unprepared woman in mourning.
I don't know about you, but given the choice between national Chronos, and God's Kairos, I will follow Jesus to the cross and tomb even when I don't know what it will fully mean until it is done. I will stay in the tomb three days with God (or longer if that is what it takes to care for our vulnerable community members to keep them healthy and from the death of the empire). Even the Disciples learned that Easter was a SEASON (not a day) that lasted until Pentecost. I'm of the mindset that it will be the same for us. Easter is not a day of resurrection, but rather the beginning of a season of resurrections, incremental, tiny even at first, leading us to a new sense of community and connectedness through the Holy Spirit. Please do not plan to return to life as normal on Easter Sunday this year, for Easter comes unexpectedly, and changes us forever in the process.
HCUCC Website Offers Useful Resources for Churches
April 1, 2020
Two pages on the Conference website contain helpful resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic and this time of social distancing and sheltering at home:
In what creative ways is your church continuing to connect and grow together while physically apart? Share with us! This new webpage on the Hawai'i Conference website is for congregations to share how they are continuing to be the church in light of COVID-19. Connect with churches in worship, find links to join Zoom meetings and view past recordings of the Conference-wide Zoom meetings, get new ideas, and more. Submit items to share to email@example.com.
The Board of Directors of the UCC recently passed a resolution submitted by the Hawai'i Conference UCC commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Hawaiian Islands and celebrating the ongoing relationship between the UCC and the Hawaiian host culture. Read the resolution HERE.
A litany based on the resolution has been developed and is offered to churches for their use. Please consider incorporating this litany into your worship during the months of April and May.
In a pastoral letter from Conference Minister David Popham, it was announced:
"The Conference office closed at 4:00 p.m. on Monday and will not be reopened until the Honolulu County mandate is lifted. Your conference staff will continue, as best we can, to work from home and provide support for our ministers, congregations, and associations. Please understand that access to our files and other such "hard material" will be limited and not all requests can be met until the shelter-in-place mandate is lifted. We ask that you contact us by phone and email. Most meetings have been moved to Zoom. We are working to remain available and reachable during this time."
In a letter sent to churches and pastors on March 16, Conference Minister David Popham wrote, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking that all gatherings of 50 people or more to stop for eight weeks. After much prayer and conversations with UCC leaders, the Hawai'i Conference Office strongly recommends that you move your worship to other platforms for the next eight Sundays. This means forgoing public worship in our church buildings until May 18. At the end of February I sent out a letter encouraging all our churches, pastors, and leaders to think through a plan around this scenario; now is the time to enact that plan. We also encourage all Association events to move to online meetings including Boards and Committees on Ministry."
Please contact your local church for information about their plans for worship and other activities.
Notices of Cancellation of Events
March 18, 2020
Due to COVID-19, the following events have been cancelled:
Kawaiaha'o Church Bicentennial events are postponed, including:
Sunday, March 15: Speaker Series, "What Makes Kawaiaha'o a Wahi Pana," will be rescheduled to May or June.
Friday, March 27: Red carpet premiere of our documentary, A Witness to Aloha, will be rescheduled to a date this coming July. Details are forthcoming.
Friday, April 24: Tea on the Lawn is postponed; new date to be advised.
Saturday, April 25: Luau at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is postponed until July. Exact date to be determined.
Sunday, April 26: Worship Service, will be done virtually, via ZOOM, Facebook Live. There will be no service in the Sanctuary.
Hawaiian Mission Bicentennial programs scheduled for April 4 in Kailua-Kona, and May 2 – 3 in Waimea, Kauai, have been postponed.
Moanalua Community Church UCC is canceling its 14th Annual Spring Celebration that was scheduled for Sunday, April 12.
The Woman's Board of Missions 149th Annual Meeting and Fellowship, scheduled for Saturday, April 25, has been canceled. Read a letter from Executive Director Clara Priester HERE.
Hawai'i PAAM has announced that the 2020 PAAM Convocation scheduled for June 25 - 28, 2020, in Northern California has been canceled. The Hawai'i PAAM music arts tour delegation will instead focus on a virtual concert of our island churches in August. More information to come. Contact Rennie Mau at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Christian Endeavor Hawai'i has announced that the 2020 Pacific Region Christian Endeavor Youth Conference to be held at Kawaiaha'o Church in July has been canceled. Contact Mike Warren at email@example.com for more information.